Millions of people have lost their jobs and are surviving on a lower income. Are you one of them and looking to earn some money to tide you over until you can go back to work? Or do you simply have more free time now you can work from home? Let’s evaluate one potential side hustle you could start to earn some extra income.
On Side Hustle Nation, Mike Naab claims to have made $50k in 6 years on Amazon’s online work platform, Mechanical Turk. Not bad for a part-time, work-from-home side hustle. But is it plausible that you can do the same?
This is what we’ll be exploring today. To earn 50k in 6 years, you’d have to earn at least $160 per week. Earnings on the platform can be low, so although it might be possible, it involves a lot of hard work. Let’s look at how Mturk works and what its potential is.
What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Mturk is an online platform that connects workers – people looking to earn money – with requesters, who need a task completed quickly and cheaply. Once you sign up as a worker, you can scan the list of HITs, Human Intelligence Tasks, that have been uploaded to the site. Requesters can specify what kind of person should work on their task, for example from a certain country or with certain skills, so not all tasks will be available to you. However, there are usually hundreds of possibilities, so it is likely you’ll find something suitable.
What are workers asked to do?
There’s a wide range of tasks available and you can choose the ones you like best. Some that I’ve completed include:
- Online surveys
- Finding contact information from tutoring websites
- Classifying websites into categories
- Writing down slogans found on coffee mugs
- Scanning statements for offensive content
I have also seen tasks asking you to upload photographs of your neighbourhood or shoot quick videos.
How much do you get paid?
According to a detailed 2017 research paper, the average pay is only $2 per hour. This is what I experienced at the beginning of my work with Mturk, but I soon found tasks that pay multiples of that.
Mturk lists the HITs from largest to smallest. For example, if a requester needs to find out the contact details of 3000 websites, their HIT will be towards the top of the list because each website is counted as one task. These assignments often pay very little, between $0.01 and $0.10. Some of the better paid HITs are buried further down since they are smaller in number.
Last month, I found a task that pays $0.33 to identify sentences with explicit content. When I timed this task, I was able to complete 22 HITs in 40 minutes, earning me $7.26. Converted to an hourly wage, this is $10.89.
This makes the $50k goal seem a lot more plausible: you’d have to work 15 hours per week, or 3 hours per working day, to achieve the weekly target earnings. It’s a lot, but if you’re stuck at home and out of work, it might be worth it.
How do you get paid?
If you’re in the USA or India, you can get your money deposited into a Paypal account. In any other country, you will get Amazon.com vouchers.
This is a bit limiting, since Amazon.com is not the same as Amazon.co.uk, so most items won’t ship to England. However, if you are like me and enjoy reading, you can buy ebooks and download them on your kindle.
If I end up working on Mturk more frequently, I will also look into options such as buying goods to resell in my little ebay shop or converting the vouchers into cash. Unfortunately, there doesn’t currently seem to be an easy way to do the latter, so it would require additional research.
Keep in mind that your earnings are taxable. In the UK, we have a tax-free ‘side hustle allowance’ of £1000 per year, so I am going to make sure I stay below that limit.
How can you get better tasks?
Unfortunately, many tasks are location specific and often, requesters only want people in the USA to complete their HITs. When I worked on Mturk in Switzerland, I barely found any worthwhile tasks, but it is better in England. Many requesters want their workers to be native or proficient English speakers.
However, you can improve the amount of HITs available to you over time. Here are some tips:
- Complete as many and varied tasks as possible. Some requesters ask for experienced workers with many completed tasks.
- Complete Mturk’s tests. For example, there’s a language test you can do to qualify for certain tasks. If there’s a HIT you’d like to do but you’re not currently qualified, check the requirements and see whether there’s a test you could do to improve your worker status.
- Do your best at every task. Many requesters require a certain percentage of approved tasks. For example, they might not accept workers who failed at more than 10% of their HITs.
What’s your overall verdict?
I would agree with Side Hustle Nation’s 3-star rating of Amazon Mechanical Turk. The platform can be a decent way to earn money, especially if you’re in the USA or India and can receive a paypal transfer. If you want to earn money from home with little hassle, Mturk works. However, you are trading your time for a modest reward, so depending on your situation, there could be much more profitable options out there.
Have you ever tried to earn money from home? Is there a platform that worked well? Let me know what other side hustles I could review.
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